Driving Disruption: Josh Sparks Of Infinity Home Services On The Innovative Approaches They Are Taking To Disrupt Their Industries

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Service Diversification: Infinity began with roofing, but through our growth and expansion across the U.S. and into Canada with 17 outstanding partner brands, we’ve added even more expertise to our team. We can serve as a one-stop exteriors solution for our customers and provide them with cutting-edge technology and integrity IHS is known for, no matter their project needs.

In an age where industries evolve at lightning speed, there exists a special breed of C-suite executives who are not just navigating the changes, but driving them. These are the pioneers who think outside the box, championing novel strategies that shatter the status quo and set new industry standards. Their approach fosters innovation, spurs growth, and leads to disruptive change that redefines their sectors. In this interview series, we are talking to disruptive C-suite executives to share their experiences, insights, and the secrets behind the innovative approaches they are taking to disrupt their industries. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Sparks.

Josh Sparks serves as Chief Executive Officer at Infinity Home Services (IHS), a multimillion-dollar enterprise encompassing high-quality home exterior brands across the U.S. and Canada. Sparks’ leadership is characterized by an unrelenting focus on the company’s mission — to save communities from unscrupulous contractors — and supported by an infectious culture and proven operating model. In the past several years, Sparks has partnered with a number of private equity firms to extend IHS’ reach and work with like-minded roofers in service of the company’s mission, all while achieving significant growth.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion about disruption, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

After I graduated from high school in Milwaukee, a friend of mine offered me a roofing job. I didn’t know anything about building roofs, but he was going to pay me $9 an hour — double what I made working in fast food. I learned the ropes quickly and worked my way up from job site cleanup to shingling to serving as a foreman before joining the Marine Corps as a reservist. When I returned to Milwaukee for reserve duty, I began sub-contracting for a roofing company. It was going well — until I found out the person who owned the company was taking advantage of people. I wasn’t going to sit by and profiteer from his dishonesty. I quit on the spot, took out a full-page ad in the Yellow Pages, and Infinity Exteriors was born.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Infinity Home Services has a clear and simple mission: to rid the world of unscrupulous contractors. This is because of Betty. It was when I completed Betty’s roof and was supposed to collect on what seemed an exorbitant bill for the scope of her job that I questioned the business owner. His admission that he was taking advantage of people set me on the trajectory to open Infinity Exteriors and run my business with the values instilled in me by the Marines: honor, courage, commitment, and perseverance. Customers appreciate those values, and honesty is a winning business strategy. In the first year, Infinity Exteriors did $1 million in revenue, and we quickly became a force in the residential roofing industry, opening multiple satellite locations and scaling to approximately $40 million in revenue.

In 2021, I began a strategic partnership with a private equity firm, North Branch Capital, and formed Infinity Home Services (IHS). It was critical that a private equity company not come in and indiscriminately cut forces and shave off overhead, but help build a coalition of like-minded roofers who approached their businesses with integrity and honesty. We’ve since partnered with 16 other roofing companies and two additional equity partners (LightBay Capital and Freeman Spogli), and IHS is a force to be reckoned with in the roofing industry today.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Integrity, or doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Early on at Infinity Exteriors, a salesperson sold a job that radically overestimated our costs. The customer bought and paid for the roof at the quoted price. After reviewing the job profit, however, we realized we charged more than we should have. There was no question of what we would do: we wrote a check back to the customer, to their astonishment.
  2. Humility is a cornerstone for any effective leader because it fosters an environment of openness, learning, and mutual respect. When leaders approach their roles with humility, they acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers and are open to learning from anyone, regardless of their position or tenure. This mindset encourages a culture where ideas can flow freely, mistakes are viewed as opportunities for growth, and everyone feels valued and heard. Humility in leadership builds stronger teams by emphasizing collaboration over hierarchy, leading to more innovative solutions and a more resilient and adaptive organization. IHS is a clear example of humility in practice.
  3. Driving for continuous improvement is a fundamental part of our ethos, guiding us to always seek better ways to serve our customers and enhance our operations. This commitment led us to refine our customer service process, which, although already well-received, was scrutinized for further enhancement. By engaging the whole team in a collaborative review, we identified and implemented small but impactful adjustments. These changes significantly boosted our customer satisfaction, proving that continuous improvement is not just a principle but a practice that leads to tangible excellence and success.

Leadership often entails making difficult decisions or hard choices between two apparently good paths. Can you share a story with us about a hard decision or choice you had to make as a leader? I’m curious to understand how these challenges have shaped your leadership.

Leadership also often involves navigating complex situations where the right choice isn’t always clear. Leadership requires understanding the balance between immediate gains and long-term vision. In my case, the decision to sell my company, Infinity Exteriors, to a private equity firm presented a path to scale the business beyond what I could achieve alone. It would offer resources, expertise, and capital beyond what I could build alone and with the promise of exponential growth. Conversely, retaining sole ownership meant continuing on a journey of personal fulfillment and maintaining complete control, albeit with the limitations of my current resources and knowledge.

In the end, deciding to partner with private equity was a strategic choice aimed at benefiting my employees by offering them more opportunities for professional development. Additionally, this decision allowed us to further our mission of saving communities from unscrupulous contractors, enabling us to make a greater impact on a larger scale.

Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. In the context of a business, what exactly is “Disruption”?

The dictionary definition has it right. Disruption, in the context of businesses, is the radical change to an existing industry or market due to innovation. This can be through technology, but doesn’t have to be.

How do you perceive the role of ‘disruption’ within your industry, and how have you personally embraced it? Is it a necessity, a strategy, or something else entirely in your view?

In the roofing industry, disruption serves as a powerful catalyst for innovation and progress. My view is that disruption isn’t just a strategy or a necessity; it’s an inevitable shift that challenges us to rethink traditional methods and adapt to the evolving needs of our customers and the environment.

Personally, I’ve embraced disruption by focusing on technology. We’ve leveraged cutting-edge technology to improve efficiency, accuracy, and customer satisfaction. I believe this approach not only positions us as leaders in a competitive market but also aligns with our commitment to responsible and honest business practices. In essence, disruption has propelled us towards a future where resilience and innovation drive our industry forward.

What lessons have you learned from challenging conventional wisdom, and how have those lessons shaped your leadership style?

I’ve learned the importance of being adaptable and open-minded by questioning established practices. There’s always room for improvement and efficiency. This approach has encouraged a culture of continuous learning and experimentation within our team, allowing us to stay ahead of emerging trends and technologies.

These experiences have significantly shaped my leadership style, emphasizing the value of fostering a growth mindset and encouraging curiosity and innovation among team members. I’ve come to appreciate that leading by example in questioning the status quo not only drives progress but also inspires and empowers others to contribute their ideas and solutions. This has created a more dynamic, collaborative, and forward-thinking environment, where we are all committed to exploring new ways to deliver value to our customers and improve the industry as a whole.

Disruptive ideas often meet resistance. Could you describe a time when you faced significant pushback for a disruptive idea? How did you navigate the opposition, and what advice would you give to others in a similar situation?

Encountering resistance to disruptive ideas is a familiar hurdle for any leader seeking to drive change. A notable experience for me was during the integration of a new technology program and process within one of our brands. The team was skeptical and was concerned the new technology might complicate operations.

Navigating this opposition required a blend of empathy, communication, and conviction. We engaged in open dialogues with their team, addressing concerns and illustrating how technology would enhance their workflow. By involving them in the implementation process and offering additional training, we turned skepticism into enthusiasm.

The key lesson from this experience is the importance of communication in change management. For others facing similar resistance, my advice is to listen earnestly to concerns, provide clear, evidence-based benefits of the disruptive idea, and be actively involved in the change process. Change is often daunting, but with the right approach, it can lead to growth and improvement for everyone involved.

What are your “Five Innovative Approaches We Are Using To Disrupt Our Industry”?

1. Innovative Technology: The technological innovations we have implemented at IHS set us apart from our competitors. Construction as a whole can be old-school. That holds companies back and becomes inconvenient for customers or employees. Our custom-built Home Builder App was designed and refined by roofers for roofers. It’s fully integrated into every project from sales to work orders and billing, all without a single sheet of paper — not the norm in this industry.

2. Redefining Industry Safety Standards: There’s no excuse for unsafe working conditions these days. Unscrupulous contractors try to save time and money by cutting safety corners. That’s unacceptable. Our employees and customers deserve respect and safety at every job, and we’re working to make sure that is the standard, not the exception.

3. Culture: Our culture is why we pour resources into fostering an open, collaborative environment where everyone is seen, heard, and respected. This guides my leadership by emphasizing the importance of transparent communication, continuous learning, and adaptability within our team. It encourages me to foster a culture where feedback is valued, mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities, and everyone is encouraged to contribute ideas towards innovation.

4. Service Diversification: Infinity began with roofing, but through our growth and expansion across the U.S. and into Canada with 17 outstanding partner brands, we’ve added even more expertise to our team. We can serve as a one-stop exteriors solution for our customers and provide them with cutting-edge technology and integrity IHS is known for, no matter their project needs.

5. Customer Engagement: It’s all about the customers. From the first interaction they have with a sales representative to the final inspection, they should feel confident in the service they’re receiving and be empowered to ask any questions along the way. This should be a no-brainer in the industry, but until it is, we will continue to emphasize and improve it.

Looking back at your career, in what ways has being disruptive defined or redefined your path? What surprises have you encountered along the way?

Disruption defines my career, but frankly, it shouldn’t. Unethical contractors are the norm, and pushing back against their unscrupulous practices itself is disruptive. I am working toward honesty and integrity as the norm in this business, and it’s been a delightful surprise to meet fellow professionals who feel the same as I do.

Beyond professional accomplishments, how has embracing disruption affected you on a personal level?

My journey of embracing disruption started during my childhood years and it has taught me the importance of being open to change as a vital component of personal growth and happiness. It has pushed me to challenge my own assumptions and continuously seek out new perspectives and solutions. These experiences have instilled in me a deeper sense of responsibility to lead by example, encouraging my family, friends, and team to not only embrace change with optimism but also encourage an environment of continuous learning. It’s important to remember that every challenge presents an opportunity for growth and improvement.

In your role as a C-suite leader, driving innovation and embracing disruption, what thoughts or concerns keep you awake at night? How do these reflections guide your decisions and leadership?

One concern that keeps me awake at night is the balance between pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and ensuring that we maintain a strong, positive company culture that supports our team through these changes. The pace of innovation can sometimes be overwhelming, not just for leadership but for all employees, and it’s crucial to ensure that we’re not only chasing the next big thing but also taking care of our people and our customers — staying true to our core values.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I am humbled by the prospect that this movement has already begun through IHS. Our mission is to rid the world of unscrupulous contractors, and you can’t do that if you become one. Taking care of your people, your customers, and growing a strong ethical business will create real change in your industry, no matter what it is.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/joshua-sparks-1b570330/

IHS’s website: www.infinityhomeservices.com

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.